In this compelling, reflective, and sometimes humorous memoir, the son of a dark-skinned, tough-as-nails Hawaiian father and frantic, no-nonsense Hawaiian mother is born with red hair. Rudolph Puana grows up in hardscrabble Kahaluu, Oahu, the only pale, red-headed Hawaiian in an impoverished, brown-skinned, working-class town. Despite early hardships, Rudy begins to learn that being different is sometimes good.

After years of earning bad grades and making worse decisions, Rudolph decides, out-of-the-blue, that he wants to become a doctor. From that day on, he endures twelve hour study sessions, feelings of inadequacy, and faces his worst fear—the possibility of having to leave Hawaii, the place he loves most, so that he can achieve his ultimate goal. The Red-headed Hawaiian is about the hard work and sacrifices that have to be made in order to achieve one’s dreams. It’s a story that shows toughness is not about how hard one can hit, but that true grit exists only when one is willing to commit to working hard and doing the things he hates most.

Taking the reader from the pier community of the Windward side of Oahu to the halls of MD Anderson, one of the largest cancer treatment centers in the world, The Red-headed Hawaiian is the story of a local boy who makes good—a boy who barely graduated from high school to become one of the youngest associate directors in MD Anderson history. Recounted with frankess and honesty, with and insider’s look into the medical industry, this memoir is the comic and surprising story of Rudolph Puana, M.D.

Authors: Chris McKinney and Rudy Puana, M.D.